Eagles OTAs: Safeties look to make a big impact early on

For an Eagles defense that was the top unit against the pass, there certainly has been a lot of turnover with the entire unit. 

While James Bradberry and Darius Slay have returned to form one of the best corner tandems in football, the Eagles will have two new starters at safety this season. 

Former undrafted free agent Reed Blankenship and former Steeler Terrell Edmunds have begun OTAs as the starters at safety. While Blankenship may have experience with the city of Philadelphia from last year, it’s his first time in this role as a lead player for the Eagles.

CHARLOTTE, NC – DECEMBER 18: Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Terrell Edmunds (34) during an NFL football game between the Pittsburg Steelers and the Carolina Panthers on December 18, 2022 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. (Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire)

“It feels great. Just being able to play football again, it’s great…we’re working on everyone communicating right now. We want to be violent so that’s our top goal right now,” Blankenship said after Thursday’s practice.

Blankenship may not have a ton of reps as a starting safety but that’s different from his counterpart in Edmunds. The former first-round pick from Pittsburgh signed with the team on a one-year deal and has already been impressed with the way the team and city have rallied together. 

“The transition has gone well. We still continue to develop and mesh with my teammates, just compete. We have a long ways to go but we’ll try to keep coming together. You learn new faces and calls but I think everything is going well,” Edmunds explained.

Will the Eagles Safeties be better in 2023?

If the Eagles are to repeat their success in the secondary from last season, they’ll need to have their new-look safety tandem play up to, or even better than the previous year’s version with Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and Marcus Epps.

PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 27: Philadelphia Eagles safety Marcus Epps (22) looks on during the game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Philadelphia Eagles on September 27, 2020 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

They’ll certainly have more depth behind their current starters though. Third-round rookie Sydney Brown has reportedly begun to turn heads already during the first round of practices.

“He’s a hard worker. He doesn’t say too much but he’s always smiling. He just loves football and gives 110% every day. He’s one of the guys that are going to be in this league for a while,” Edmunds said of the rookie.

But Philadelphia also needs experienced leaders in the back end. While Edmunds has over five years of experience as a starter, it was Blankenship staying behind in practice Thursday afternoon to go over things with the rest of the Eagles’ rookie players. Of course, with Blankenship having experience in Philadelphia, it makes sense as to why he is more vocal as Edmunds tries to assert his own brand into the team.

PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 12: Philadelphia Eagles safety Reed Blankenship (46) warms up during pre-season game between the New York Jets and the Philadelphia Eagles on August 12, 2022 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

Regardless, it’s clear that both Edmunds and Blankenship are ready to prove that the Eagles won’t need to worry about the safety position as they get closer to training camp.

“Someone could go down and that’s why you have to be ready to go,” Blankenship concluded. “Nothing’s really changed. No matter what position, I’m still hungry and humble and that’s going to stay with me throughout my career.”

Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire